A reader comment submitted this morning officially lights the hot stove.
From reader Ken: "Last nite on xm, the Delaware county daily times beat writer was interviewed and the national host and he agreed that gillick will trade howard because thome has zero value
howard should get a solid #2 starter and 3rd baseman...i did not like this but they were speaking as if it was common knowledge that phils fans want thome out/howard in but that will never happen
they talked about it at length.."
Ryan Howard is probably the number one reason why I would consider buying a partial season ticket package for next season, but I have to admit, a deal would make sense depending who they can get in return.
Let's look at the bait dangled above: a No. 2 starter and a third baseman. A young, productive third baseman can carry them through many seasons, and a number two starter is essentially what Kevin Millwood, A.J. Burnett and Jeff Weaver are, the three pitchers considered the best starters on the free agent market.
Fans love Howard, and I love Howard. In the words of Bill Conlin, speaking on Daily News Live earlier in the season, I would be "violently opposed" to trading Howard," but ...
... but aside from Chase Utley, Howard will generate the most buzz of any player on the team. His perceived value is extremely high. He's cheap, he's young, there's no long-term baggage, and he's a star in the making. As a commodity, he has the potential to fill multiple holes on the roster, including starting pitching, which is what the Phils need most.
If Thome does indeed get them nothing, and if an opportunity opens up to get a young, all-star caliber third baseman and a starter for Howard, I would pull the trigger ... and cry myself to sleep until opening day.
Gillick may be stepping into a good situation with a good team in place, but the Howard / Thome quagmire could be the make or break move of his legacy.
Decisions like these are why GMs get paid the big bucks.